Skip to main content

Garmin Instinct Analog – what I want to see from the rumored hybrid watch

Man sitting on rocks checking his watch
(Image credit: Getty)

Its rumored that Garmin might release a new Instinct Analog watch later this year, and recently registered documentation (opens in new tab) published on government websites suggests it might be coming sooner rather than later. So what will this new watch bring to our wrists if and when it eventually arrives? There are no clues so far beyond the name, which makes it clear that there will be a face with physical hands, but I've got some other thoughts too.

The name Instinct Analog first appeared earlier this year, when a retailer accidentally leaked a list of warranty information for Garmin watches to be sold this year. The list featured the names of several devices that had yet to be announced, including the Forerunner 955 and Forerunner 255, Vivosmart 5, and Venu Sq 2. If we assume that the device codenamed Garmin Austin was in fact that Enduro 2 that launched a few weeks ago, that leaves just two devices unaccounted for: the Vivomove Trend, and Instinct Analog.

Garmin doesn't typically release devices in the last couple of months of the year, so time is running out if these two watches are going to make an appearance in 2022. If they do, these are some of the features I'd like to see...

Hybrid face

This one seems like a near certainty. All watches in the Instinct line so far have been digital only, but the Vivomove series show how Garmin can incorporate both analog and digital displays. All Garmin Vivomove watches have physical hands, but when you press a button on the side of the watch case, these move smoothly aside and your fitness stats (such as step count, calories burned, Intensity Minutes, and Body Battery) are revealed on an LED display hidden behind the face.

The challenge will be cramming all the data collected by an Instinct watch into such a small face. Watches in the Vivomove line are much simpler, but watches like the Garmin Instinct 2 are capable of showing graphs, charts, and even simple maps.

Ridiculous battery life

Watches in the Instinct line are known for their incredibly long battery life, and I'm expecting the Instinct Analog to be no exception, particularly if it's equipped with a solar cell. Garmin claims that, with sufficient sunlight, the Instinct 2 Solar can run indefinitely in smartwatch mode, and it's possible that the Instinct Analog might be similar. Since you'll be able to check the time at a glance with the physical hands, you won't need to activate the Instinct Analog's screen nearly as often as you would a typical sports watch, which should help conserve power.

If Garmin opts for a chunky field watch style (which would suit the rugged nature of the Instinct line), the new device could pack a good sized battery, too.

Garmin Instinct 2 on woman's wrist

Garmin claims that the Instinct 2 Solar can run indefinitely with sufficient sunlight. Will the Instinct Analog be able to do the same? (Image credit: Garmin)

Completely flat back

I'm hoping that the Garmin Instinct Analog will have a digital compass, and I'm really hoping that you'll be able to lay it down completely flat on a map, like the Casio Pro Trek PRG-340. If it had a similar rotating dial, so much the better for taking a bearing in areas where you can't rely on GPS.

Flashlight (and possibly siren)

One of the best features of the Garmin Enduro 2 is its built-in flashlight, which shines out of the top of the watch case when you tap the backlight button twice. It's even brighter than the light built into the Fenix 7X, and extremely handy in inclement conditions (as I found when I took it for a run through a dark mile long tunnel).

It's also extremely useful for camping, meaning no more fumbling for a headlamp if you can't find your sleeping bag zipper at night, or tripping over guylines. It would be a perfect addition to a new adventure watch in the Instinct line.

Garmin already has its own emergency fall detection system, but it would also be great to see something like the Apple Watch Ultra's siren feature, which helps you signal for help if something goes wrong when you're out on the trail. 

Garmin Enduro 2 with flashlight showing

The Garmin Enduro 2's flashlight is extremely handy, and would make a good addition to the Instinct Analog (Image credit: Future)

Woven band

Another feature I'd like to see Garmin carry over from the Enduro 2 is the woven nylon strap, which is lighter and more breathable than the silicone straps found on all other Instinct devices to date. It's easy to adjust, and its strong hook-and-loop fastening means it doesn't budge.

Alternatively, something like the Alpine Loop of the Apple Watch Ultra could be a good option. This is woven, but fastens with a G-shaped hook rather than Velcro. It looks like it should hold securely, and be easy to fasten one-handed.

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).